Waste Pioneers: Food Industry Material Innovations
Faced with the ever-increasing global issue of non-biodegradable waste and limited resources, a growing number of designers and researchers are developing sustainable material alternatives using industry waste. Here, we highlight exciting projects combining food industry byproducts with innovative material developments.
- London start-up Aeropowder uses waste feathers from the poultry industry to create sustainable and environmentally friendly insulation materials. With more than 1,000 tonnes discarded each week in the UK alone – often ending up as low-grade animal food or being incinerated – the start-up believes feathers could offer a viable alternative to standard petroleum-based products.
Feathers are lightweight, thermal, water repellent and biodegradable, and the team is currently exploring how these properties can be exploited. It has produced an early-stage block of white, lightweight material and is continuing to develop further prototypes.
See our CMF Industry View: Architecture & Spaces report for more on the latest building materials.
- Dutch start-up Mestic is tackling the global surplus of manure by converting animal waste into new materials such as biotextiles, plastic and paper. The agricultural byproduct contains phosphorus and nitrogen – excessive amounts of which become harmful to the soil, water and air.
The production process involves extracting a base substance of pure cellulose from dry manure, and the cellulose acetate – required to create the materials – in the form of acids from wet manure. Shiny white bio-plastics and parchment-like papers can then be achieved, along with fibres for the biotextiles.
The team is currently working to scale up and industrialise the production of the biomaterials. Mestic was one of the H&M Global Change Award winners in 2017 – see our blog post for the other projects.
- A project by Dutch designer Basse Stittgen explores whether discarded slaughterhouse blood can be used to manufacture an eco-friendly material – an attempt to utilise the millions of litres wasted by the meat industry every year.
The designer has developed a protein-based biopolymer using 100% animal blood, which is dried out to create a powder before being heated and pressed. The albumin protein within the blood acts as the binding agent, solidifying the blood into a material. A series of small, solid black objects – such as a jewellery box and an eggcup – showcases the material in use.
For more on using animal refuse, see Dutch Design Week 2017: Colour & Materials.
For more on repurposed food waste, see the Trans-Industry Ingredients report in our Future of Flavour Industry Trend.